Erling Brevik , head of HR & Administration of Statoil in Russia

In 2011, Atlas Services Group opened an office in Moscow, Russia. One of the strategic partners there is Statoil – world's largest operator in waters deeper than 100 metres, among the world's largest net sellers of crude oil, and the second-largest supplier of natural gas to the European market. Erling Brevik is Head of HR & Administration of Statoil in Russia. Atlas spoke to him about the Russian oil and gas industry and the difficulties in doing business there.

Just like Statoil, you are originally from Norway. What was the reason for you to move to Russia?

"I regard Russia as a challenging and exciting work place. In addition to being one of the richest countries in terms of oil and gas resources, Russia has a long history and impressive culture. So it’s a great opportunity to learn something new, broaden my horizons and contribute to strengthening Statoil’s international foothold. Statoil has been working in Russia since the late 1980’s and we have long-term view on our business here. Based upon the 40 years of experience in developing complex projects on the Norwegian continental shelf, we are confident that Statoil is the right partner for Russia in developing its huge hydrocarbon resource potential. We possess efficient technologies and valuable competence which we are prepared to share with our Russian partners."

What’s your opinion on doing business in Russia?

"Working in Russia - as in any other country of the world - has its own peculiarities, but our ambition is to work in this country in the same way as we do in Norway: in a sustainable manner and for a long-term. And we believe we have a good basis for this: Norway and Russia are neighbors and natural partners. We also have complementing experience in oil and gas sector: Russia has profound experience in onshore development, but has only recently started going offshore, while the Norwegian oil and gas industry have broad expertise in offshore oil and gas production. At the same time the critical success factor for doing business in Russia and in other countries is understanding of cultural differences and the ability to manage cultural issues and build strong and trust-based relationships with our partners."

Rosneft and Statoil signed an agreement on May 5, 2012. Could you explain what this is about?

"On May 5th last year we signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Rosneft. Under the agreement Statoil and Rosneft will set up joint ventures, with Statoil holding 33.33% in each. The partners will jointly explore four offshore exploration licenses - the Perseevsky licence in the Russian part of the Barents Sea and three licences in the Sea of Okhotsk. Our cooperation also gives us the opportunity to diversify our Russian portfolio – it includes technical studies on two onshore assets: North-Komsomolskoye – a significant heavy oil field in Western Siberia, and selected shale oil plays onshore.

What do you think of the number of qualified and competent personnel in Russia?

"There is a shortage of people with the right competence and skills within the oil and gas sector both in Russia and in the rest of the world. To identify the people with the correct profile will be a key to Statoil’s success in Russia. Atlas Services Group is an international company with offices worldwide and good local knowledge. This makes Atlas an interesting company for us as recruitment partner in Russia."